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What contribution does the installation of solar water heaters make towards the alleviation of energy poverty in South Africa?



The South African government has publicized plans to install one million solar water heaters in households throughout South Africa by the year 2014, with the goals of reducing strain on existing electricity resources, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, creating employment and alleviating poverty. This paper examines two existing solar water heater installation projects with the aim of investigating the social contribution of the installation of solar water heaters in low-income households in South Africa. The Sustainable Urban Livelihoods approach (SULA) was adjusted to provide an analytical framework for the development of suitable indicators of social change in the context of renewable energies and energy poverty. Increases in household capital and the reduction of household vulnerability to shocks, stressors and seasonal variability as the result of solar water heater installation were investigated in projects in low-income housing developments in the cities of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Data collected from paired household surveys (before and after installation) in over 600 households and qualitative information (Most Significant Change stories) show that the provision of a constant, cheap source of heated water contributed positively to the alleviation of energy poverty. Household capitals (categorised as Human, Social, Financial, Physical, Natural and Gender capital), including aspects such as health benefits and time and financial savings, were all positively effected by the installation of solar water heaters. In addition, improved energy security greatly reduced household vulnerability to shocks, stressors and seasonal variability. Comparison between the two projects revealed that the geographical setting (climatic conditions in particular), and the approach and strategies adopted by the implementers of the solar water heater installation project, greatly determine the extent to which benefits to the households are realised.
The South African government has publicized plans
to install one million solar water heaters in house-
holds throughout South Africa by the year 2014,
with the goals of reducing strain on existing electric-
ity resources, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions,
creating employment and alleviating poverty. This
paper examines two existing solar water heater
installation projects with the aim of investigating the
social contribution of the installation of solar water
heaters in low-income households in South Africa.
The Sustainable Urban Livelihoods approach
(SULA) was adjusted to provide an analytical
framework for the development of suitable indica-
tors of social change in the context of renewable
energies and energy poverty. Increases in house-
hold capital and the reduction of household vulner-
ability to shocks, stressors and seasonal variability
as the result of solar water heater installation were
investigated in projects in low-income housing
developments in the cities of Cape Town and Port
Elizabeth, South Africa.
Data collected from paired household surveys
(before and after installation) in over 600 house-
holds and qualitative information (Most Significant
Change stories) show that the provision of a con-
stant, cheap source of heated water contributed
positively to the alleviation of energy poverty.
Household capitals (categorised as Human, Social,
Financial, Physical, Natural and Gender capital),
including aspects such as health benefits and time
and financial savings, were all positively effected by
the installation of solar water heaters. In addition,
improved energy security greatly reduced house-
hold vulnerability to shocks, stressors and seasonal
variability. Comparison between the two projects
revealed that the geographical setting (climatic con-
ditions in particular), and the approach and strate-
gies adopted by the implementers of the solar water
heater installation project, greatly determine the
extent to which benefits to the households are
Keywords: solar water heater, energy poverty,
renewable energy, social contribution, sustainable
urban livelihoods, South Africa
1 Introduction
Since the Energy Minister, Mrs Peters, announced at
the Solar Water Heating Conference in
Johannesburg in November 2009 that one million
solar water heaters (SWH) would be in place by
2014 (Peters, 2009), installations can be seen
throughout the country. Even to the knowledgeable
observer can the situation sometimes seem like
described in Mrs Peters speech where she said that
in one to two years, anyone who comes back from
overseas and is surprised by the appearance of the
solar geysers, ‘they will be asked, have you been on
the moon or mars or somewhere that you didn’t
hear?’ (Peters, 2009). When studying the govern-
ment financed SWH rollout in the low-income resi-
dential sector closer, it soon becomes obvious that
the rollout of this technology is rather spontaneous
and is basically proceeding in the absence of central
planning. The number of total installations on low-
income houses is unknown to government (DOE,
This initiative of the South African government
is, however, driven by high expectations for the
impact of solar water heating. The technology is
supposed to address the country’s electricity chal-
lenge, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, create
employment and alleviate poverty (Afrane-Okese,
2009). How does solar water heating alleviate
poverty? Many papers and reports look at technical
and financial aspects of project implementation,
such as the suitability of high-pressure systems, the
potential emission reductions and achievable car-
bon revenues through SWH. The impact of solar
water heaters on people’s livelihoods, their energy
Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011 27
What contribution does the installation of solar water
heaters make towards the alleviation of energy poverty
in South Africa?
Holle Linnea Wlokas
Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town
Journal of Energy in Southern Africa 22(2): 2739
use and their behaviour regarding water consump-
tion remains largely unexplored. The aim of the
South African government’s mass SWH roll-out is
to contribute to poverty alleviation and yet the pos-
itive social contribution of the installation of solar
water heaters on low-income households has
empirically not been sufficiently tested.
This paper explores the assumption that solar
water heaters installed in low-income households
increase the household’s capital and decreases the
vulnerability of the households to poverty. The
research supports the discussion around the social
benefits of renewable energy, looking at solar water
heaters in particular and debates it in the context of
appropriate project implementation. Data and
information are drawn from household surveys and
qualitative research undertaken in two SWH proj-
ects implemented in South Africa.
2 International and local expectations of the
social contribution of solar water heating
Solar water heating is not a new innovation; it has
been tested in many countries. South Africa is
ranked 35th despite the fact that it has ‘annual 24-
hour global solar radiation average of about 220
W/m2 and ‘one of the highest in the world
(Department of Minerals and Energy, 2009).
There was a worldwide operating solar thermal
heat capacity of 147 GW in 2007 and yet informa-
tion about the social benefits of SWH installed in
residential houses is not readily available. The
Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21
Century speaks about solar water heating as having
the potential to ‘partially or wholly substitute the
use of electricity, LPG, and oil for water heating in
areas with sufficient solar radiation’ (REN21
Renewable Energy Policy Network, 2005). The
financial aspect is found to be the major benefit for
households in a SWH pilot project in Zimbabwe-
‘from an individual household accounting perspec-
tive, SWH use saves about [US] $1000 in discount-
ed water heating costs over a 15-year period’
(Batidzirai, 2009). Despite the long pay-back period
for low-income households, definite benefits of the
installed technology are expenditure savings for
fuel, independence from energy prices and reduc-
tion of external costs associated with air pollution
from wood combustion, paraffin poisoning, fires
and burns and wood collection (Batidzirai, 2009).
Manyaapelo’s (2000) research around consumer
responses on a mobile solar water heating system in
South Africa was based on similar conceptual ideas.
Manyaapelo describes a chain of associated risks
with the use of fuels for heating water in a low-
income household which could be mitigated
through the usage of a SWH.
Warm water is essential for the preparation of
many staple foods, and even more relevant to
proper hygiene (..) When fuels are burnt inside
the home, air quality and safety deteriorate.
Fires are a frequent event in such households, as
is paraffin poisoning. Smoke causes respiratory
and eye, nose and throat ailments. The carbon
monoxide from poorly designed and serviced
stoves deteriorates brain functions, impacting
productivity, and the ability to learn.
The social contribution of 100 solar water
heaters installed in low-income households in
Durban was researched with a baseline and a follow
up household survey. The results are
The majority of households stated that they use
less fuel in general than before the installation.
Fewer households use wood and LPG and more
households use electricity and paraffin for water
The financial savings due to the SWH are esti-
mated by 70% of the respondents to be between
R50 and R100 per month.
Almost every respondent of the follow up survey
would recommend the installation to friends
(Cawood, 2004).
Environmental and economic benefits from
SWH are outstanding, but social benefits linked to
the reduction of the fossil fuel usage of households
are also possible. Han et al. (2009) find that SWH
allows the inhabitants of the Chinese city Zhejiang
to live more healthy lives fuel costs are lower,
indoor air quality is improved and electric shocks
from electric water heaters are less frequent.
Additional observations from the All-China
Women’s Federation show that laundry and dish
washing with cold water is the main cause for the
extremely common incidence of rheumatoid arthri-
tis suffering, particularly among women. ‘SWH
introduction increases the availability and use of hot
water and, thus, reduces the prevalence of rheuma-
toid arthritis’ (Han, 2010).
Taking the information from these publications it
seems that the benefits of SWH installations on low-
income households are: fuel expenditure savings,
improved health (respiratory, orthopaedic and
rheumatic) and reduced risk associated with fuel
usage (electric shocks, paraffin poisoning, burns
and fires). A further benefit is highlighted by
Mokwena (2009) as she concludes in her report
about South African municipal responses to climate
change that in the case of solar water heater instal-
lations for low-income housing ‘it has been possible
to strike this policy balance between addressing the
immediate needs of citizens and addressing climate
change through an integrated policy approach’
(Mokwena, 2009).
As well as academic literature and project
reports, the Project Design Documents (PDD) and
Program of Activities (PoA) Design Document of
Clean Development Mechanism projects have been
28 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011
reviewed. The most common social benefit men-
tioned in them is the improvement of indoor air
quality (Tunisia, 2009) (Kuyasa, 2005). A project in
Vietnam also talks about the reduced risk of electric
shocks as experienced by the Chinese (Vietnam,
Most of the benefits mentioned above are also
expressed in the project documentation of the two
case study projects – the Kuyasa CDM Project and
the Zanemvula SWH Project. The Kuyasa CDM
Project has a strong focus on the social benefits of
the project intervention and has even done a pre-
installation study which concluded that job creation
through installation and maintenance of the tech-
nology, annual energy expenditure savings around
R625 per household and improved health are pos-
sible outcomes of the project (Kuyasa, 2005). This
project was the first project from Africa to be regis-
tered under the Clean Development Mechanism
and was awarded with the Gold Standard Award
for carbon projects with a particular focus on sus-
tainable development soon after its inception. The
pre-installation assessment finds that the ten
installed pilot SWH ‘had a substantial impact on the
livelihoods of the ten households’ (Cousins, 2003).
The technology was found to be ‘admired and
appreciated by the households’ and ‘significant
energy savings’ through the usage of pre-heated
water from the SWHs were expected in future.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Solar
Water Heater Pilot Project (referred to as the
Zanemvula SWH Project) is aiming to ‘improve the
quality of life by providing a free source of hot water
to households’ (Van der Merwe, 2009). In order to
qualify this improvement the author was contracted
to assess the project. The results of this research and
the surveys conducted in Kuyasa will be tested in
this paper on the basis of the following described
analytical framework.
3 Analytical framework: Sustainable urban
livelihoods approach
The Sustainable Urban Livelihoods Approach was
chosen as the tool for the analysis in this paper and
an adjusted version creates the basis for indicators
for testing the hypotheses about the contribution of
SWH. The results of the application of two impor-
tant elements of the SULA to the two case study
projects stand in the centre of this paper as they are
used as questions in the empirical work. In the fol-
lowing, the household capitals and the vulnerability
context will be applied to solar water heater inter-
ventions and their benefits for low- income house-
The central hypothesis in this paper is that solar
water heaters installed in low-income households
increase the household’s capital and decrease vul-
nerability. The terms household capital and vulner-
ability create the substance for the vague term
social contribution. The research question is subse-
quently: What is the social contribution, in terms of
household capital and vulnerability, from the instal-
lation of solar water heaters? What is the potential
of this renewable energy technology to alleviate
energy poverty?
3.1 Linkages between household’s assets
and solar water heater interventions
The SULA was applied to the assessment of the
provision of solar water heaters in a low-income
community. Possible changes and benefits were
identified, based on the SULA model and available
literature. The SULA further informed the design
process of the follow-up questionnaires in the two
case study projects. Tables 1 and 2 show the theo-
retical application of the SULA to the solar water
heater intervention. The linkages between the
household’s assets and solar water heater interven-
tions in an urban context are identified, assuming a
South African urban context.
The main linkages identified as ‘Natural Capital’
are the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the
substitution of fossil fuels with solar energy, the
improvement of indoor air quality and the reduc-
tion of deforestation. To fulfil these expectations cer-
tain changes have to occur in the households. The
heated water from the solar water heater has to be
used instead of water heated by other means.
According to Winkler and Thorne’s theory of sup-
pressed demand (Winkler, 2002) states that low-car-
bon technology is able to reduce future carbon
emissions of a household. Installing solar water
heaters in low-income households, which do not
have an electric geyser, can substitute the fossil fuel
used for heating water manually, but also prevent
households from buying an electric geyser once
they have the financial means to do so. Electricity
demand is suppressed as a result of poverty or lack
of infrastructure, and low-carbon technologies
which prevent future carbon emissions are valid
interventions for reducing global greenhouse gas
emissions under the UNFCCC. In the case of
Kuyasa, the emission savings achieved through the
installation of solar water heaters are calculated to
be 1.288 CO2tonnes per household per year
(Kuyasa, 2005). Less frequent heating of water and
a possible switch from burning wood or charcoal
due to increased monetary savings in the house-
holds would further lead to improved indoor air
quality in houses and a reduction of deforestation.
Social Capital is addressed through community
connection and social networks fostered by the
project. The social network that has the greatest
potential to be influenced by this project is the net-
work created by the common experience of living
with a solar water heater. This network is most like-
ly to be fostered by a particularly positive or nega-
tive perception of the group of beneficiaries, by
Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011 29
themselves or by the rest of the community. The
survey process and training sessions for the com-
munity are also expected to have a positive influ-
ence on the relationships between people in the
Training, employment, improved health and
education are the crucial aspects tackled by SWHs
interventions in terms of ‘Human Capital’. Training
and employment of people from the community
where the project is implemented stimulate human
capital. SWH may influence the physical and men-
tal health of children and adults through the avail-
ability of warm water for baths, improved indoor air
quality and decreased depression. School atten-
dance may increase because of improved child
health and less pressure to collect fuel impacts pos-
itively on education. Adults who receive training in
renewable energy and solar water heating technol-
ogy expand their knowledge, gain confidence and
perceive SWHs as something of value.
The ownership of new technology and increased
material wealth benefits ‘Physical Capital’. That the
households own the SWHs is crucial.
Increased incomes, income security and
reduced expenditures promoted by employment
and fuel savings improve Financial Capital’.
Financial support for the maintenance of the SWH
systems and government support through subsidies
30 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011
Table 1: Linkages between household’s assets and solar water heater interventions
Capital assets Benefits of solar water heater interventions Indicators for measuring success of intervention
Natural capital Reduction of greenhouse gas emission Usage of SWH water, less heating of water with
stove/electric kettle, suppressed demand theory
Solar energy substitute for fossil fuel Usage of SWH water, less heating of water with
stove/electric kettle
Improvement of indoor air quality Fuel change possible through income savings due to
reduced fuel costs for water heating
Reduction of deforestation Less fuel wood reliance due to improved financial
Social capital Foster community connection Group of SWH beneficiaries created, surveying helps
people to get to know each other, training sessions
new context for spending time together
Human capital Training Training of local people for installation and
maintenance of SWH
Employment Employment of trained and untrained local people
Time savings Time savings through not heating water manually
Improved health of infants and children Warm water for children’s bath, improved indoor air
Improved mental health of families Decreased depression through experiencing SWH as
element which relieves burden of fuel collection and
Education Through improved health, children might attend
school more often
Access to information Training for beneficiaries in renewable energy
technology and sustainability
Physical capital New technologies SWH has to be in ownership of beneficiary
increased material wealth Labour saving private appliances could be purchased
with saved income
Financial capital Financial support in maintenance of SWH Incomes through trade of certificates on either
compliance or voluntary carbon market
Gender capital Reduced expenditure Reduced fuel costs through reduced need to heat
water, selling of hot water
Increased income Employment related to installation, maintenance or
training of beneficiaries
Income security Formal employment for installation, maintenance or
training of beneficiaries
Government support (through subsidies Government support for appliance, installation and
and similar) maintenance
Changes benefiting women or men Gender specific changes linked to certain tasks
in particular or behaviour of women and men.
and pro-poor carbon revenue can further con-
tribute to the broadening of the ‘Financial Capital’
of a household.
The SULA has not been designed to include
gender capital, but it has been added to the model
here in order to track possible gender specific ben-
3.2 Vulnerability context related to SWH
The vulnerability context as defined by Chambers
(1989) and applied to energy services by Andrew
Barnett (2001) is here further extended to solar
water heater interventions. The factors influencing
the vulnerability of households depend on their
local geography, location, seasonality and popula-
tion density as well as trends in technology and gov-
ernance practices.
In terms of geography is the amount of solar
radiation and the risk of frost possible vulnerable
points for households which hope to use hot water
regularly? Climatic conditions also influence the
need for heated water and possible water shortages
in seasons with little or no rainfall which would
increase vulnerability. The costs of the technology
and the availability of qualified SWH installers and
maintainers differ between countries and regions.
Increased costs for supply and maintenance
could be a problem in remote areas making elec-
tricity saving technologies like SWH dependant on
the location of a household or community, whether
this is remote or close to an urban centre.
As well as the general climate conditions in
which a SWH is expected to function, there are sea-
sonal differences which will impact on the need for
heated water and the availability of it. Installation
and maintenance costs could be higher during the
cold and wet seasons.
Social acceptance of new technology is general-
ly expected to spread faster in urban and highly
populated areas where there are also governmental
initiatives to promote SWHs. Improved solar water
heating technology can convince those who have
not been satisfied with currently available systems.
Shocks which are specific to living with a SWH
are theft and damage of the system. Also power cuts
might influence electrified households and force
them to temporarily climb down the energy ladder.
The falling back onto traditional biomass might be
prevented by the provision of heated water from the
solar water heater.
4 Data collection: Background
The methodological approach of this paper com-
bines quantitative and qualitative research and
data. A general analytical framework was created
based on existing academic literature and technical
project reports. The international experience on the
analysis of social issues around solar water heating
in low-income communities provided very limited
information which was in most cases not well sup-
ported by empirical data, but based on assump-
In the two case study projects, the Kuyasa CDM
Project and the Zanemvula SWH Project, have a
baseline and follow up household surveys been
conducted. All surveys worked with local, mostly
female enumerators and further information was
Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011 31
Table 2: Vulnerability context related to SWH benefits
Shocks, stresses and season
Geography Solar radiation levels and frost risk
Costs and availability of SWH and qualified installers
Climate determines the need for heated water
Restricted water supply in extremely dry summers when local government releases
water restrictions and stops
Location Remoteness adds to the costs of SWH supply and maintenance
Remoteness might also make SWH more cost effective due to high grid connection
Seasonality Need for heated water might change with seasons
Installation and maintenance costs might vary with season
Availability of heated water might depend on season
Population density Social acceptance of SWH can spread faster
Trends in governance Government decisions on SWH can influence availability, costs etc.
Fostering of renewable energy by government can increase acceptance of
Technological trends Improved low-cost SWH technology influences acceptance
Shocks Fires, theft of SWH, damage of SWH
Power shortcuts of national supply might force households to temporarily climb
down on energy ladder, that could be prevented by SWH
collected through personal observation and com-
munication with stakeholders of the project and
from project documents. The SULA is further
informed by a Gender Issues Identification and
Most Significant Change Stories which have been
collected in a written form and on a voluntary basis
from the project manager, the counsellor and three
of the enumerators who live in the community and
worked on the follow-up survey. Additional infor-
mation is based on observations and personal com-
munications with stakeholders throughout the
implementation process of the project.
4.1 Limitation of the research
After the data collection had started the Sustainable
Livelihoods Approach gradually gained more influ-
ence in the work. Because it was not incorporated
from the start of the project, or at least the research,
a comprehensive application of this approach was
not possible.
A further, limiting factor was the quality of the
work done by the survey enumerators. Both proj-
ects had their own team of local enumerators whose
education and communication skills varied consid-
erable. The quality of the completed questionnaires
(in total over 3 800) was not always consistent.
Efforts have been made to eliminate errors and
inconsistencies in individual questionnaires.
The work in the two communities did not always
run smoothly. In Zanemvula, for example, the com-
munity prevented the survey from progressing
because the community’s rules regarding employ-
ment procedures had not been respected by the
municipality when selecting the enumerators. A
toyi-toyi1demonstration forced the project manage-
ment to review their employment process and
employ more enumerators (Smit, 2009). The base-
line survey in Kuyasa was interrupted by xenopho-
bic attacks2which forced the survey management
to put the survey on hold for some days. These inci-
dents are likely to have influenced the answers
given by some households.
Other potential biases may stem from the socio-
economic and cultural background of the
researchers and survey managers.
5 Energy and poverty in Kuyasa and
According to the Human Development Index,
South Africa is placed 129th out of 175 countries.
The average life expectancy of South Africans is
51,5 years and in the third quarter of 2009, 24,5%
of the population was unemployed (UNDP, 2009)
(Stats SA, 2009). The Energy Development Index
places South Africa on rank 38 out of 75 develop-
ing countries measuring energy poverty in over 100
countries using per capita commercial energy
usage; the proportion of total energy use that is
commercial and the share of population with access
to electricity for each country by calculating the
arithmetic means of the three values for each coun-
The latest statistics show that nationally 81.5%
of households are connected to the national elec-
tricity grid. In the Western Cape Province, where
the Kuyasa CDM project is situated, 96% of houses
are electrified. This is far ahead of the Eastern
Cape, where Zanemvula SWH Project is located,
where only 70% of houses have a municipal elec-
tricity connection. Most of the houses without elec-
tricity are located in rural areas (Visagie, 2008)
(Bekker, 2008). The Eastern Cape has a large rural
population and is underprivileged in this regard.
Countrywide about 2.5 million people (most of
32 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011
Table 3: Brief overview of the two case study projects
Name Kuyasa CDM Project Zanemvula SWH Project
Location Cape Town Port Elizabeth
Type of project CDM Project Voluntary carbon project
Size 2 309 households 1 263 households
Project owner City of Cape Town Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality
Project implementer South African Export Development Fund Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality
Project activities Solar water heater, insulated ceiling, Solar water heater
compact fluorescent lights and wiring
Survey activities Social baseline survey conducted in May and Social baseline survey conducted in
June 2008, small follow-up done in November March and April 2009, small follow-up
2008, big follow-up for June 2009 (not included survey done in September 2009,
in analysis) big follow-up for April 2010 (not
included in analysis)
Further research Personal communication and observation Gender Issue Identification, Most
Significant Change Stories, Personal
communication and observation
State of affairs with Project finalised in June 2010 Completed in June 2010
them in rural areas) are without (legal) electricity
connections and as a result 27.1% of households
cook with wood or paraffin (Stats SA, 2008).
5.1 The Zanemvula SWH Project
The Zanemvula SWH Project consists of 1 263 gov-
ernment houses that are receiving solar water heat-
ing technology. The Zanemvula housing project is
located in the low-income settlement of Boysen
Park in Port Elizabeth. The Zanemvula community
was only established at the beginning of 2008.
Every house that was approved by the government
in March 2009 was included in the solar water
heater project. The total Zanemvula housing project
consists of 3 432 houses and around 800 addition-
al self-built shacks. When Zanemvula is mentioned
in this paper it refers only to the group of benefici-
aries of the SWH project. The project is being paid
for by the municipality, and an involvement in the
voluntary carbon market is being discussed. The
implementation started in March 2009 and was
completed in March 2010.
The vulnerability context of households in the
Zanemvula community is affected by poverty.
Zanemvula is located at the very outskirts of the city
of Port Elizabeth, 40 kilometres from the central
business district. The only public transport is mini
taxis that take up to an hour to travel to the city cen-
There are very few employment opportunities
nearby. Major industries are far away and domestic
and informal work is scarce. Zanemvula is such a
young community that research and poverty assess-
ments have not yet been conducted. The nearby
Motherwell community will be used as a reference
for poverty as it is much more established and
researched. The poverty index in Motherwell is 16.7
according to David Everatt’s study (2009) conduct-
ed in 2006.3The average poverty index in the eight
poorest urban nodes in South Africa was 18.2 in the
same year. Urban poverty, as well as rural poverty,
has decreased from 1996 to 2006, in urban nodes
from 29.2 in 1996 to 18.2 in 2006.
The baseline survey conducted by the author
revealed that on average three people were living in
each house in Zanemvula. The average family has
1.7 children. In the community of beneficiaries 95
households had a person above the age of 60 years
living with them and a total of 55 people with spe-
cial needs live in Zanemvula. An average of 1.6
people in each household was bringing some kind
of income to the household’s monthly budget. The
most common income sources were government
grants and employment.
Before the project started only about 35% of the
houses in Zanemvula were consuming electricity
and either their neighbours or the municipality were
paid for this service.4 Water connections were
reported in 31% of the houses. The most common
energy sources for lighting were paraffin (46% of
households) and conventional light bulbs (34%).
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (9%) and candles
(3%) were also used and multiple sources of light-
ing were used by nine percent of households.
Household heating in winter was reported by only
6% of the households; paraffin (8%) and wood
(7%) being the most common heating fuels.
Multiple fuel usage was reported by only one per-
cent of households. For cooking the residents of
Zanemvula used mostly paraffin (69%) or electrici-
ty (27%); multiple fuel usage for cooking was the
exception only reported in three percent of the
Factors affecting energy usage in Zanemvula are
the limited access to electricity, low incomes and the
scarcity of fuels other than paraffin in the local
shops. All 21 shops in Zanemvula only sell paraffin.
Wood is sold by one private person and gas has to
be bought outside the community.
The benefits of solar water heating in terms of
vulnerability in this community are many. In terms
of climate the level of solar radiation is ideal for a
solar water heating project, frost does not occur in
the area and overcast weather is not common. The
subtropical climate with average winter tempera-
tures around 20 degrees Celsius means that heated
water is not a matter of survival but it is greatly
appreciated and used for a number of household
activities. Water restrictions which might impact the
availability of water in the houses have not
occurred in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality
to date (Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, 2009).
The project community is located in an urban set-
ting where electricity connections are the norm. The
costs of the SWH are not a matter of concern for
these households as the municipality pays for the
systems and installation of them. Remoteness and
its possible negative effects on the price of solar
water heaters is therefore not a factor in the munic-
ipal planning and is not a concern of the house-
The need for heated water is only slightly higher
in winter months because of the mild climate. The
maintenance costs will be covered by the munici-
pality for the first year after the installation. It is not
anticipated that these costs will vary with the sea-
sons. Even though the winter months in Port
Elizabeth are not particularly cold, the temperature
of the water coming from the solar water heater will
vary but will always be warmer than the tap water.
The acceptance of the SWH in Zanemvula var-
ied for a number of reasons. Two different compa-
nies have been contracted and they are installing
two different systems. They work according to the
same principle, but look different. According to the
beneficiaries the taste of the water differs between
the two systems as well. The system which reputed-
ly provides tasteless water is more popular than the
Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011 33
other. Technical problems like leakages and noise
coming from the SWH cause some dissatisfaction
as did damage to roof tiles during the installation.
Despite these issues the technology is, in general,
accepted in the community. The density of the pop-
ulation leads to positive and negative opinions
about the SWH spreading rapidly. The government
has undertaken to pay for the implementation of
SWH’s for the group of beneficiaries. Further
undertakings at local and national level will influ-
ence the availability and costs of such systems. The
integration of SWH in government houses is still
being debated and a national framework for solar
water heating is being developed. Other initiatives
are working on carbon finance through registration
of projects under the CDM.
As mentioned, there are a number of technical
challenges around the SWH that are currently influ-
encing the acceptance and satisfaction of the bene-
ficiaries. There is considerable potential for techno-
logical improvement. In terms of shocks the com-
munity has not experienced any problems regard-
ing the SWH. Although fires, theft and vandalism
have been mentioned as concerns of the benefici-
aries none of these shocks have not been reported
in the follow-up survey. ‘Load shedding’ is a strate-
gy used by the state owned electricity supplier
Eskom to reduce pressure on the electricity grid by
regularly switching off power to different suburbs.
The beneficiaries are partly independent of ‘load
shedding’ due to the usage of solar energy for water
5.2 The Kuyasa CDM Project
The non-governmental organisation SouthSouth-
North, in cooperation with several consultancies
and advisors, designed the first CDM project to be
registered on the African continent. Registered in
2005, it was the first project worldwide to be award-
ed the Gold Standard. The Kuyasa CDM Project is
owned by the City of Cape Town. The organization
contracted to implement the project is the South
African Export Development Fund.
The Kuyasa CDM Project is different from the
Zanemvula SWH Project in many ways. The
Kuyasa project intervention includes not only the
installation of a solar water heater but also the insu-
lation of the roof with ceiling board, repairing the
electrical wiring inside the house and the exchange
of conventional light bulbs for the more energy effi-
cient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL´s). All 2
309 households of the original Kuyasa housing
project were beneficiaries of these installations. In
the period between the design and the implemen-
tation Kuyasa expanded, so the project does not
cover the whole of Kuyasa as it is today. Because of
funding problems, the implementation phase of the
project only started in May 2008 and was finalised
in March 2010.
Kuyasa is similar to Zanemvula in that it is locat-
ed on the very outskirts of the city, in this case the
City of Cape Town. Kuyasa is part of the greater
suburb of Khayelitsha and it can take up to 90 min-
utes to travel the 30 kilometers to the central busi-
ness district by train or mini taxis. Employment
opportunities in close proximity are rare and ‘even
where ‘unskilled’ jobs do become available, a range
of cultural, racial and linguistic factors continue to
marginalise Khayelitsha’s residents’ (Du Toit, 2007).
The study by du Toit and Neves revealed that half
of the respondents stated that they were unable to
speak either Afrikaans or English which is just one
of the factors why the authors conclude that
Khayelitsha residents remain to a very large meas-
ure economically, spatially and racially marginalised
from the city (Du Toit, 2007). According to the
authors, this is why so many people who migrate
from the rural areas of the Eastern Cape into cities
like Cape Town ‘rarely venture the last 15 or 30
kilometres into the economic hub’ (Du Toit, 2007).
According to David Everatt (2009) Khayelitsha
had a poverty index of 27.1 in 2006 (poverty index
of Motherwell near Zanemvula 16.7 in 2006) which
is far above the average of 18.2 in poor urban
nodes. Kuyasa, it is suggested by this study, is a
much poorer area than Zanemvula. However, it
should be taken into account that Zanemvula is a
more recent development that is still challenged by
the lack of electricity and water. The baseline survey
conducted in Kuyasa revealed that the average
household is 4 people of which 2.2 are under the
age of 18 years. In the whole community of benefi-
ciaries there are 107 people over the age of 60.
Nearly 100% of the houses are served with water
and electricity from the city. The majority of people
heat their homes in winter (63%) and use paraffin
for this (53%). Only a few use electricity (7%), gas
(1%) or multiple fuels (1%). For the heating of
water the electric kettle was the most common
appliance (87%), followed by an electric stove
(5%). Multiple fuels are used by a few households
(5%) and even less use gas (1%) or are in the pos-
session of an electric geyser (1%).
The vulnerability context in relation to solar
water heating for Kuyasa is very similar to the one
in Zanemvula. Kuyasa differs from the situation in
the Eastern Cape in the need for heated water in
winter. Winter months get much colder in the
Western Cape, increasing the need for warmth. A
further difference is the question of maintenance. In
Kuyasa it has been decided that households will
have to pay monthly fees for this service.
6 Did the household’s capital increase and
the vulnerability decrease as a consequence
of the installed SWH?
The findings in the projects show that household
capitals have been augmented through the projects
34 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011
and particularly through the installation of the solar
water heaters. In both projects households’ heat
water by means other than SWH significantly less
frequently and carbon emissions and money are
therefore saved. The hot water from the roof is
mostly used for bathing and dish washing in both
communities. Indoor air quality appears to have
improved due to the substitution of fossil fuels with
solar energy. Some houses have started heating
their homes which they had not been doing before
the project. This might have a negative effect on the
indoor air quality, but may still improve health and
comfort. Both projects appear to have performed
equally regarding the stimulation of natural capital.
Natural capital has further been affected by
changes in heating, cooking and lighting fuels in the
Zanemvula community. This change was mainly
caused by the general electrification of the houses.
The fuel situation in Kuyasa suggests that changes
in fuel use are rather slow and difficult to stimulate
by installations like SWH and ceilings. Use of wood
as an energy source seems to have disappeared
altogether. The survey found no support for the
expectation that electricity savings due to the use of
SWH motivate households to use electricity for
more household purposes and use paraffin less.
Social capital is being addressed in Zanemvula
by improving knowledge and understanding of the
people living in the community. Many community
leaders worked as enumerators and conducted
interviews with the people in their area and beyond.
The community education workshop and tempo-
rary employment opportunities brought people
closer together. There was no evidence of conflict
between beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries in the
survey. At Kuyasa, intensive communication and
participation with the residents created understand-
ing. It is likely that in Zanemvula more communica-
tion would have been useful in order to answer all
the questions around the selection of beneficiaries
for the project and ensure greater willingness to
cooperate with the project. This has not always
been the case as a toyi-toyi5in the beginning of the
project showed. The Kuyasa project is also far
ahead of the Zanemvula project when it comes to
creating a stimulating and open atmosphere. By
training one member of each household, thus trans-
ferring employment and skills to many people in
Kuyasa, the CDM Project managed to gather
momentum for establishing entrepreneurial initia-
tives. The next years will show if and how this
momentum is being used. Training and employ-
ment in Zanemvula was temporary, on a much
lower level and failed to provide the enabling and
motivating effect.
Human capital was stimulated in both projects
with success but, again, with emphasis on different
levels. Zanemvula provided on-job training for eight
local employees; Kuyasa enrolled its team of 85
people in different colleges and accredited courses.
The duration of employment in Zanemvula was for
some weeks, Kuyasa employed for the whole peri-
od of implementation which will be over 33
months. The transfer of information about renew-
able energy and climate change has been taken
more seriously in Kuyasa a training DVD was
produced and training sessions on these issues were
run several times. In Zanemvula a three day work-
shop and a planned brochure were used to try to
achieve the same objective. Physical health and
psychological wellbeing seems to have improved in
Kuyasa more markedly than in Zanemvula, howev-
er, this is not a completely fair comparison because
the insulated ceiling installation contributed a lot to
that success. When it comes to the perception and
opinion of the solar water heater systems, both proj-
ects reported that lives had been made easier
through savings in time and money.
Physical capital involved the ownership of the
solar water heating technology in both projects. The
technology is paid for by the projects in both cases
and maintenance is ensured for the first few
months. Kuyasa has set up its maintenance plan
already and is planning to collect R30 per month
from each household. The municipality in Port
Elizabeth is still considering the way forward on this
matter. Additional income has definitely been gen-
erated in greater volumes in Kuyasa than in
Zanemvula where employment was on a much
smaller scale.
Financial capital is again linked to differences in
the scale and duration of employment, being
greater in Kuyasa than in Zanemvula. The expendi-
ture savings are higher in the Kuyasa project too,
where three energy saving interventions have been
installed. The electricity saving data from Kuyasa
shows the potential of the solar water heater to con-
tribute positively to the households’ budget, but the
increased water expenditure could be seen as a
negative. There was a balance of about R63 savings
per winter month. The lack of valid expenditure
data and the lack of a suitable baseline in
Zanemvula prevent any comparison. Calculated
expenditure savings are influenced by prices of
paraffin (which are recalculated and adjusted by
government every month), LPG and electricity.
Paraffin and LPG prices were correlated throughout
the year, except for the months of January and
February when the paraffin price was inflated.
Electricity prices are dependent on the municipali-
ties; the price for electricity rose for both communi-
ties in the last year.6 Cousins and Mahote (2003)
found in their pre-installation assessment in Kuyasa
that monetary savings generally ‘help to alleviate
strain placed on various types of social networks’
through allowing them ‘more leeway in the choices
they make on a daily basis in deciding where and
how they spend or invest money and allows them
Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011 35
to remain sensitive to subtle changes in the rela-
tionships in these networks’ (Cousins, 2003).
Gender capital has been researched in more
detail in the Zanemvula project and indicates that
women and men benefit in different ways from
solar water heating. Women, who are mainly
responsible for tasks in the home, enjoy the con-
stant availability of heated water which saves them
time and effort during the day and allows them to
sleep longer in the mornings. Men’s personal
hygiene has improved due to the new service of hot
water and, additionally, time is saved because they
are independent of female efforts to prepare a bath.
It was observed in Kuyasa that the women are more
informed about the changes caused by the SWH in
their households which suggests that these changes
affect their lives more significantly than men’s.
To date, the benefits of solar water heating have
been assumed, based on theory and literature
around energy and poverty. These assumptions
have here been shown to be correct in most of the
cases. A switch in fuels used for cooking and heat-
ing from paraffin to electricity has not been
observed. The introduction of electricity has had a
great impact on the choice of energy used for
household purposes, but the solar water heater and
its accompanied expenditure savings has not. This
shows that other needs have a higher priority and
that negative effects of paraffin use are not per-
ceived as being as pressing as other things the
saved money could be allocated towards. The effect
on the wellbeing of the households, particular on
the women was impressive, despite being expected.
The ongoing research project around mental health
in Kuyasa seems likely to reveal important results.
This paper has researched two very different
approaches to participation, training and employ-
ment of people from the communities when imple-
menting a SWH intervention. Without doubt, the
Kuyasa CDM Project has set a great example for the
successful integration of a project into a low-income
The vulnerability of the benefiting households in
the Zanemvula SWH Project and the Kuyasa CDM
Project has been reduced as a consequence of the
installation of solar water heaters. The assumed
linkages between solar water heating and vulnera-
bility presented at the beginning of each case study
have proven to be sound. Many linkages between
the vulnerability of the households and the installa-
tion of SWH either caused positive, vulnerability
reducing, change or no change. SWHs do not
increase the vulnerability of the studied households.
Issues concerning costs related to the SWH were
not applicable as everything was paid for by the
projects. Long-term maintenance is the only issue
which could put an extra strain on the households’
budgets or reduce the achieved savings through
reduced electricity consumption. In both projects
households are independent from grid electricity for
their hot water needs and the technology is gener-
ally accepted in the communities. Shocks like theft
or vandalism have not occurred so far and even
seasonality does only have a small impact on the
temperature of the water in the SWH.
6.1 Discussion and recommendations
The two case study projects presented differ consid-
erably in the way they were planned and imple-
mented in many ways. The project in Zanemvula
was designed and implemented by the engineers
working in the electricity and energy department of
the municipality of Port Elizabeth. Their learning
curve has been steep in the 12 months from the ini-
tial planning to the first installations of SWH.
‘Before we started this project the general feeling
from the engineers was just to enter the area, install
the systems and then get out’ (Merwe, 2009).
Throughout the implementation of the SWH project
it become increasingly obvious to the management
that ‘the biggest issue surrounding the poorer com-
munities is not the provision of extra services, but
the education of the communities to sustain these
projects themselves’ (van der Merwe, 2009). The
subsequent community workshop and establish-
ment of the ‘maintenance and complaints office’ in
the community were first steps towards creating
more ownership of the project in the community.
The Kuyasa CDM Project on the other hand was
designed by a non-governmental organisation that
planned for five years before the project com-
menced. The community was kept informed about
the plans from the start and even though not always
conducted in a proper participatory manner the
community was always involved in some way. This
was quite different from the situation in Zanemvula
where technicians sometimes installed a SWH on
the roof of surprised households. In Kuyasa people
waited in anticipation for the project to start. In fact,
the site office manager Ndamane was put under a
lot of pressure by the residents of Kuyasa, especial-
ly in winter months when people were desperate for
warmth and warm water in their houses (Ndamane,
2009). The situation in the two projects was thus
very different in terms of local ownership and par-
ticipation of the beneficiaries from the start. These
differences continued to affect the projects through-
out their implementation.
The perception of the houses having a solar
water heater is of high relevance when it comes to
the social acceptance of the technology. Acceptance
can be defined as Roger does as the ‘use, or adop-
tion of a technology versus just the passive approval
of a technology, or intention to use it’ (Mallett,
2007). The acceptance and use of the technology is
crucial not only for ensuring the success if the ongo-
ing mass-roll out of solar water heaters, but also for
the carbon finance aspect of such projects.
36 Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011
The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
through solar water heating is based on the
assumption that solar energy is substituted for fossil
fuels for the heating of water. This might appear self
evident, but behavioural change is required by the
households. Site office manager Ndamane com-
mented on this issue that some people in the proj-
ect are still busy adjusting to the new service com-
ing from the roof. Occasional reminders that the
heated water from the SWH can be used for all
types of household purposes are still needed
(Ndamane, 2009). In the survey results however,
there was not a single house that stated that it
would not use the water provided by the SWH at
all. The data does, on the other hand, show that the
majority of respondents in the Kuyasa CDM Project
perceive their electricity consumption as being on
the same level as before. This conflicts with the
expenditure data, which shows a reduction in elec-
tricity and fuel expenditure, but indicates that peo-
ple might still be using the same amount of electric-
ity by increasing usage for purposes other than
heating water. The municipality in Port Elizabeth is
currently looking into this issue through monitoring
the electricity consumption of individual house-
holds and comparing these numbers with the per-
ceived changes in consumption by the household
Resulting out of this research, the following
issues around information, participation, education
and follow-up have been identified as key for the
sustainability and smooth implementation of such
projects. These recommendations assume that the
project management is not following a participatory
planning process in order to identify the type of
change the community might wish for, but a con-
servative top-down approach in which the project is
largely designed without the participation of mem-
bers of the community.
Information: actively engage with the local
councillor, community liaison people and com-
munity leaders (hereafter referred to as VIPs)
about the project as soon as possible; consult
VIPs on who should receive the technology if the
project can only include a limited number of
people; make the project known as soon as it is
clear that it will happen.
Participation: plan the implementation phase in
collaboration with VIPs; take seriously advice on
who to include and what processes to follow;
ensure the transfer of technical skills to members
of the community; set up a maintenance system
which makes use of the locally accumulated
skill; consult VIPs with anything related to
employment of members of the community.
Education: discuss the advantages and disad-
vantages of the technology openly with the
members of the community in order to allow
them to make an informed choice about the par-
ticipation in the project; train the households on
the correct usage of the technology in order to
reduce maintenance calls; explain the context of
the project (climate change, renewable energies,
energy efficiency, etc) to allow households to
speak in an informed way about the project and
feel part of a movement which extends beyond
the boundaries of their community; spread this
knowledge also to less likely target groups of the
community for example, engaging with the
local schools to educate learners about solar
water heating.
Follow up: ensure suppliers stay committed to
the project as long as they are needed (special
financial arrangement or conditions in contract
can support this); engage with VIPs on regular
basis about the project; react to issues raised by
VIPs regarding the project (Wlokas, 2011).
7 Conclusion
This paper explored the assumption that solar water
heaters installed on low-income households make a
social contribution by increasing their households’
capital and decreasing the vulnerability. The
Sustainable Urban Livelihood Model, with the addi-
tion of gender capital to the household capitals, was
chosen for the analysis. Results from household
questionnaire surveys and complementary qualita-
tive information from two case study projects in
South Africa showed that the installed renewable
energy technology caused multiple changes in low-
income households.
It was found that solar water heaters contribute
positively to the alleviation of energy poverty
through providing a constant source of heated
water. The extent to which this technology is con-
tributing is, however, dependant on the approach
and strategies used by the project implementer. The
excellent international reputation of the Kuyasa
CDM Project was confirmed on the basis of empiri-
cal data. Comparison of the Kuyasa project with the
Zanemvula SWH Project revealed common benefits
of solar water heater installation.
Less frequent heating of water was identified as
the main change for natural capital. Further
changes in the use of energy in the household could
not be linked to the SWH installation. Improved
physical health, increased wellbeing through a more
comfortable life and time saved, transferred knowl-
edge and skills around solar water heating and
additional employment are major contributions to
human capital. Social capital was stimulated
through additional and intensified connections
between people in the communities which is main-
ly due to the shared experience of working and
learning together and getting to know each other
better through the household surveys that were
conducted. Physical capital is increased by the fact
that the households own the new SWH technology
Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011 37
and additional material wealth is a possible conse-
quence of employment created by the projects. The
savings of energy costs; new, reliable, although tem-
porary income sources for the people employed by
the projects; the absorption of costs for the technol-
ogy, its installation by the governmental bodies and
initial financial support for maintenance are positive
changes related to the financial capital of house-
holds. In terms of gender capital, time and stress
savings for women and improved personal hygiene
for men have been identified as the main benefits.
Despite the many benefits common to both case
studies, a major conclusion of this study is that
engaging communities and encouraging their active
involvement is crucial to realising the full benefits of
the installation of SWHs in low-income households.
Households have to be informed and constantly
updated about plans concerning their lives.
Educational preparation is necessary to empower
people to use the new technology as efficiently as
possible to meet their needs. Participatory planning
of the installation process and maintenance plan is
essential for a long-term success of the project.
Gender conscious planning and implementation
should be mainstreamed throughout the various
project phases. Only if these recommendations are
followed will the assumption by the South African
government that the mass rollout of solar water
heaters will contribute to the alleviation of poverty
be justifiable.
1. Dance used in Southern Africa to express (political)
2. Foreigners living in low-income settlements in South
Africa have become targets of xenophobic violence
since May and June 2009.
3. The study is based on the poverty matrix recom-
mended by South Africa and makes use of official
Census data from 1996, 2001 and independent sur-
vey data from 2006. The index includes data on edu-
cation, unemployment, dwelling type, household
composition, household expenditure, household size,
water, refuse removal, sanitation, electricity and tele-
4. So-called illegal connections to neighbours or self
made electricity connections from street lights etc are
common in areas which have not been electrified and
households which cannot afford the once of connec-
5. Toyi-toyi: dance which become famous particularly
during Apartheid in South Africa for political protest.
6. Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in Port Elizabeth
increased their price for pre-paid meter customers
from 49.075 c/kWh to 61.344 c/kWh in July 2009
and the City of Cape Town raised the price for low-
consumption customers from 0,489 c/kWh to 0.504
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Journal of Energy in Southern Africa • Vol 22 No 2 • May 2011 39
... However, people must be willing to invest in their own human capital by attending training classes or schools and accessing preventative medical services to have a variation in livelihood strategies options [51]. In a study performed in Zhejiang, China, human capital was improved by installing SWHs in households [57]. Indoor air quality was improved, electric shocks from electric geysers were reduced, and rheumatoid arthritis (which mainly affected women) had also been reduced since it was mainly caused by washing dishes and clothing with cold water [57]. ...
... In a study performed in Zhejiang, China, human capital was improved by installing SWHs in households [57]. Indoor air quality was improved, electric shocks from electric geysers were reduced, and rheumatoid arthritis (which mainly affected women) had also been reduced since it was mainly caused by washing dishes and clothing with cold water [57]. ...
... Social resources are intangible and include networks, social claims, social relations, affiliations, associations, support structures, social norms and trust [58,59]. The Kuyasa Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Project was launched to pre-install and study the impact of SWHs on households [57]. The social networks created by this project were influenced by the common experience of living with a SWH [57]. ...
There has been a global increase in greenhouse gases due to anthropogenic activities such as deforestation and urbanisation. In South Africa, the main source of greenhouse gases is the burning of coal for electricity gener-ation. The South African government has implemented a solar water heater initiative into the Reconstruction and Development Programme, a programme established by the African National Congress government to construct low cost housing for previously disadvantaged citizens. These Reconstruction and Development Programme houses have been retrofitted with solar water heaters as part of an energy-saving initiative which reduces de-pendency on the grid and provides additional socio-economic benefits to improve the lives of its users. This study examined the socio-economic impacts associated with the use of solar water heaters in low-income households as well as their attitudes and perceptions towards using solar water heaters. The primary data was collected using questionnaires which yielded qualitative and quantitative data. The study area consisted of two low-income communities in South Africa. A holistic understanding of energy use and its impacts on households was gained. The study found that the solar water heaters had a variety of socio-economic impacts such as providing additional monetary savings that could be used towards livelihood strategies and benefits allowing households to spend more time on productive activities. In order to ascertain the community’s perception and attitudes towards the technology, statistical analyses were performed. An overall positive perceived performance of the solar water heaters was found, however residences did experience an abundance of negatives.
... Biofuel and biodiesel are examined in 20% of the literature, with hydropower being addressed in another 14%. While most articles do not explicitly state the cause of a transition, many provide context; they often cite policy pronouncements (such as national targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions), and the private sector is often involved in the implementation of such policies, sometimes with state endorsement [15,[69][70][71][72][73][74][75][76][77][78][79][80][81][82][83][84]. ...
... Several pieces of literature assert that the presence of certain renewable energy projects has deepened social and wealth divides due to unequal access [15,71,72,80,82,100,101,135,136]. While many cases have pointed to the positive outcomes that solar energy sources have brought to rural communities, especially with regards to improving energy self-sufficiency, educational outcomes, and the alleviation of women's labour burdens [69,76,[80][81][82]86,115,116,[120][121][122]124,125,127,137,138], questions of equitable access have also been particularly common within cases of solar energy deployment. Examining renewable energy consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mohammed et al. [101] find that the high start-up cost of household renewable technology blocks the poorest families from accessing technologies such as rooftop solar systems. ...
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Transitions to low-carbon energy systems are essential to meeting global commitments to climate change mitigation. Yet “greening” energy systems may not make them any fairer, inclusive or just. In this paper, we review the academic literature to understand the state of knowledge on how diffusion of low-carbon technologies impacts gender and social equity in intersectional ways. Our findings indicate that renewable energy projects alone cannot achieve gender and social equity, as energy interventions do not automatically tackle the structural dynamics embedded within socio-cultural and socio-economic contexts. If existing power asymmetries related to access and resource distribution are not addressed early on, the same structural inequalities will simply be replicated and transferred over into new energy regimes.
... During the transition to democracy, access to affordable electricity became 'a basic need and basic right' with high political and cultural significance (Mayr et al., 2015) and was central to the post-apartheid government's Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). Consequently, low-income households have typically aspired to a grid connection rather than off-grid alternatives such as solar home systems and solar water heaters (Wlokas, 2011). ...
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This paper argues that the distribution of electricity represents an important yet neglected aspect of the politics of energy transitions. In recent years, South Africa’s electricity sector has seen the introduction of new actors and technologies, including the ‘prosumer’ (producer–consumer) of electricity and small-scale embedded generation from roof-top solar photovoltaics. We analyse these recent developments in historical context and consider implications for contemporary planning, regulation and ownership of electricity. We find that the reconfiguration of electricity distribution faces significant political and economic challenges that are rooted in the country’s socio-economic and racial inequalities and its heavy dependence on coal-fired power. First small-scale embedded generation offers potential opportunities for affordable, decentralised, low-carbon energy, yet disruption to the coal-powered electric grid and the monopoly of South Africa’s electricity utility has been minimal to date. Second, small-scale embedded generation creates tensions between equitable and low-carbon energy transitions and threatens critical revenue from the country’s wealthy consumers that cross-subsidises electricity services for the poor and other municipal public services. Third, the South African experience queries common assumptions about the democratic potential of decentralised governance. Fourth, South Africa provides insights of global significance into how political institutions have responded to social and technological drivers of change, in a context where planning and regulation have followed rather than led infrastructural developments. While energy policy remains unresponsive or resistant to social and technological change, there remain significant political, economic, technical and regulatory challenges to a just and inclusive energy transition.
... Uy, Takeuchi, and Shaw (2011) used the SLA to explore options for vulnerable communities living in coastal parts of Alba province, Philippines, highlighting that livelihood capitals vary in resilience when exposed to different types of shock. Wlokas (2011) came to a similar conclusion about the installation of solar water heaters for households in a village in South Africa. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies notes that ' [l]ivelihoods are often better in danger zones: flood-plain and volcanic soils are very fertile; coasts are good for fishing and farming; and fault zones in arid areas often have associated water supplies' (IFRC, 2014, p. 65). ...
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Disaster resettlement, as a mitigation and preparedness measure, entails significant economic, physical, and social impacts, which continue to challenge understanding of recovery from major events, especially regarding the extent of the context and environmental efforts to rebuild livelihoods. Based on a case study of Qinling Mountains, China, this research investigates the effects of disaster resettlement from a livelihoods perspective. Methodologically, it proposes a framework that combines the pressure-state-response framework and the sustainable livelihoods approach, and it employs a structural equation model to examine how specific factors affect disaster resettlement. The results indicate that conflicts may occur during and after resettlement owing to the difference or disparity between the concerns of resettled peasants and those of the government. Consequently, the risks related to livelihoods need to be taken seriously. Effective risk communication is critical to bridge the gap between different stakeholders. The paper concludes with some practical and policy recommendations.
... The mean time saving as result of SWH was 2-3 hours. These results are in consonance with Wlokas (2011) who concluded that the solar heaters have saved the time of women involved in the collection of fuelwood. Economic Benefits Data analysis exposed that 358kg and 181 kg of Pine and Broad leaved species per day were consumed in summer while 536kg and 271kg of Kail and Oak were consumed in winter respectively. ...
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Forest depletion is one of the serious environmental concerns in Pakistan. The already meager forest resource is under severe anthropogenic pressure and is vanishing rapidly. Lack of alternative to fuel wood is one of the major underlying causes of the forest depletion. Many efforts have been made to reduce the pressure on natural forests by introducing new technologies such as Solar Water Heaters. Solar Water Heaters have been introduced in Galiat valley to reduce pressure on natural forest resource for fuel wood. This study was designed to evaluate the impacts of this alternative fuel technology on forest resource conservation and find out its social and economic impacts on the rural dwellers. The results of the study are encouraging as the technology adoption has significantly reduced the fuelwood consumption and hence pressure on the forests. Similarly, the technology has contributed significantly in improving the socioeconomic condition of the households using this technology.
... . For heating, sunlight was seen by participants as a source of energy that is clean, free and readily available. Solar water heaters would contribute positively to the alleviation of energy poverty in these households through providing a constant source of heated water (Wlokas, 2011). . The participants identified problems with the way that paraffin and gas is used in households. ...
Due to the complex interactions between socio-economic, cultural and political factors, some urban households consume a portfolio of energy sources, e.g. electricity, coal, paraffin, gas and solar power. A social construction of technology perspective is used to understand the choices underlying these multiple fuel practices. Nine participants (household energy managers, consumers and users) were purposefully selected from Soshanguve, an urban township in Pretoria, South Africa. Data were collected through individual in-depth interviews and narrative analysis was used to generate findings. Stories about multiple fuel use in the household showed this practice is common and forms part of the participants’ lifestyles. Social, cultural and political meanings of fuel use are identified in the narratives. Suggested interventions to optimize multiple fuel use in this context include additional technology such as solar power, collaborations with manufacturers to improve existing fuel types that are seen as potentially hazardous, and leveraging women’s knowledge and position in the household to formalize education about multiple fuels. The role of government in providing subsidies for alternative energies and reviewing accessibility to electricity was also highlighted by the participants. This research demonstrates that policy-makers should actively involve consumers in household energy system decisions through deliberative dialogue with communities.
The process of heating water consumes a lot of energy. In South Africa (SA) up to 40% of household energy consumption is utilized for water heating. In this regard, the use of renewable energies, especially solar, can help reduce the energy crisis in this country. In this study, applying the solar water heaters (SWHs) in home-scale has been explored for the first time, by using climatic information for 21 cities in South Africa. The techno-environmental assessment was performed by TSOL PRO 5.5 on two types of the evacuated tube (ET) and flat plate (FP water heaters). Furthermore, these cities are ranked using GAMS 24.1 and two types of DEA methods. The results indicate the efficiency of evacuated tube SWHs is better than that of flat plate SWHs at all cities and if we use the FP water heater, the average solar fraction is 95.93%, which prevents about 23.5 tons of CO2 emissions annually. These values for ET water heaters are 99.16% and 24.4 tons per year, respectively. For the FP collector, the findings indicate Beaufort West, Mmabatho and Welkom cities are preferable cities in both models, DEA-CCR and DEA-Additive models.
Energy innovation to provide energy services for Informal urban settlements is thus far gender blind. The invisibility of gendered energy needs impedes addressing energy insecurity concerns to promote the adoption of energy innovations, especially in the Global South. Energy insecurity is significantly rampant in informal urban settlements inhabited by about 50% of SSA. Women and girls are not only the most vulnerable but also disproportionately affected by this phenomenon. There is a need to understand the gender-energy nexus in informal urban settlements to mainstream gender in the energy innovation process. It is evident that the existing gender analysis frameworks fail to address gendered energy needs, and none are specific to the context of informal urban settlements. The similarity in the formation of informal settlements across the continent informs the scope of this paper. Through an integrative literature review, a critical content analysis addresses two objectives; understanding the gender dimensions within energy innovation processes and conceptualising appropriate gender analysis tools for energy innovation processes in informal urban settlements. Some emergent gender inequality dimensions unique to informal settlements include limited exposure to energy innovations; poor health outcomes and higher mortality rates in women and children; limited financial capacity, poor skills training, low participation and lack of gender-sensitive energy policies. These factors are subsequently reconciled in developing a context-specific gender analysis framework to embed gender in energy innovation processes. The newly devised gender analysis framework could inform energy policy and enhance the adoption of energy innovations in Informal urban settlements in Africa.
Renewable energy sources like solar energy have an important role to play towards the implementation of the 2030 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa. While renewable energy was not stated as one of the technologies for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it played an indirect role towards meeting MDG targets especially in the areas such as household application, health, education and poverty reduction in Africa. However, renewable energy's impacts (including solar energy technologies) were not quantified, and lack of performance assessment could be in part attributed to the weak implementation of solar energy projects in the developing world including countries in Africa. The aim of this paper is to conduct meta-analysis of the literature on the performance of solar energy technologies in order to determine solar energy adoption trends in African countries. This is supplemented with expert interviews and data gathered from the World Bank/Global Environment Facility. Using three case studies of Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, this paper examines the benefits and challenges that are associated with the application of solar energy technologies for meeting SDGs in Africa. Finally, the paper concludes by highlighting the policy implication for the application of solar energy technologies.
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Projects implemented under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) need to establish a baseline. The baselines is a projection of greenhouse gas emissions that would have occurred without the project. Establishing baselines that allow for sustainable development through CDM projects is a key challenge, especially in poor communities. The CDM rules explicitly allow for baselines that account for emissions "above current levels due to specific circumstances of host parties". This provision lends support to crediting of growth in demand for energy services where it is currently suppressed as a result of poverty and/or lack of infrastructur e or suppressed demand. The question is whether the existing level of consumption is the baseline or the future expected level of consumption including "development" advances in provision of energy services and as a result of poverty alleviation is the baseline. Or should development be allowed to get dirty before it qualifies to become clean? The paper presents a baseline methodology that provides opportunities for suppressed demand to be predicted and counted.
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This paper discusses the economic, social and environmental benefits from using solar water heating (SWH) in Zimbabwe. By comparing different water heating technology usage in three sectors over a 25-year period, the potential of SWH is demonstrated in alleviating energy and economic problems that energy-importing countries like Zimbabwe are facing. SWH would reduce coincident electricity winter peak demand by 13% and reduce final energy demand by 27%, assuming a 50% penetration rate of SWH potential demand. Up to $250 million can be saved and CO2 emissions can be reduced by 29% over the 25-year period. Benefits are also present at individual consumer level, for the electricity utility, as well as for society at large. In the case of Zimbabwe, policy strategies that can support renewable energy technologies are already in current government policy, but this political will need to be translated into enhanced practical activities. A multi-stakeholder approach appears to be the best approach to promoting widespread dissemination of SWH technologies.
South Africa, compared to many other developing countries, enjoys a number of advantages which favour national electrification and the extension of benefits to the poor. These include the economic capacity to carry out a subsidised national electrification programme, a fairly favourable policy environment, free basic electricity[1] to assist the poor and a reliable (until recently) low-cost electricity generation capacity. This paper assesses the household energy situation in the rapidly growing poor urban and peri-urban areas of South Africa in general and analyses in greater depth a primary household energy survey conducted in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay. The key objective of the study is to identify viable and proven policy options that can assist in providing clean, affordable and more sustainable energy options for the urban and peri-urban poor. Access to electricity is not the main problem of the majority of the urban and peri-urban poor, but rather the ability to afford the service. People living in settlements not approved for housing by local government experience the gravest forms of energy poverty. Some make use of extension cords, with the reported attendant problems of less security of supply, danger, theft of wires and higher costs than metered customers. Access to paraffin (kerosene) is very good because of the infrastructure network, and paraffin appliances are generally cheap compared to electric and LPG appliances. Access to LPG is regarded as not good because of a poor network, distance to retail outlets, and the high cost of gas and appliances. Access to electricity does not automatically lead to higher levels of productivity and income generation. Most of the small businesses at household level are of a retail nature. The problem the urban poor experience is broader than electricity supply. It is rooted in the housing shortage, land issues and government's inability to deal with in-migration to urban areas.
Since 2003, South African policy discourse about persistent poverty has been dominated by the notion that poor people stay poor because they are trapped in a ‘second economy’, disconnected from the mainstream ‘first world economy.’ This paper considers the adequacy of this notion in the light of research conducted in 2002 and 2005-2006 in Mount Frere in the rural Eastern Cape, and in Cape Town’s African suburbs. It argues that a process of simultaneous monetisation, de-agrarianisation and de-industrialisation has created a heavy reliance on a formal sector in which employment is becoming increasingly elusive and fragile. Fieldwork suggested high levels of economic integration, corporate penetration and monetisation even in the remote rural Eastern Cape. Rather than being structurally disconnected from the ‘formal economy,’ formal and informal, ‘mainstream’ and marginal activities are often thoroughly interdependent, supplementing or subsidising one another in complex ways. The dynamics of these diverge significantly from those imagined both in ‘second economy’ discourse and in ‘SMME’ policy. Instead of imagining a separate economic realm, ‘structurally disconnected’ from the ‘first economy,’ it is more helpful to grasp that the South African economy is both unitary and heterogeneous, and that people’s prospects are determined by the specific ways in which their activities are caught up in the complex networks and circuits of social and economic power. Rather than ‘bringing people into’ the mainstream economy policymakers would do better to strengthen existing measures to reduce vulnerability, and to consider ways of counteracting disadvantageous power relations within which they are caught, and supporting the livelihood strategies that are found at the margins of the formal economy.
'Vulnerable' and 'vulnerability' are common terms in the lexicon of development and while they may serve as convenient substitutes for 'poor' and 'poverty', vulnerability is not the same as poverty. It means not lack of want, but defencelessness. The articles in IDS Bulletin 20.2 arose from a conference held at IDS in September 1988 to contribute towards developing a theory and accepted indicators and methods of measuring vulnerability. In the editorial, Robert Chambers reflects on five perspectives he captured from the discussions and their implications for policy and practice. He concludes that the main lesson to learn has to be humility. Through their fieldwork and their analysis, the contributions show how ignorant and sometimes how wrong we in the development professions have been. The lesson for the future is to enquire and question, doubting what we think we know and learning from those who are vulnerable and poor.
This paper documents South Africa's electrification programme from the late 1980s to the present. The primary aim of the paper is to present the reader with an overview of the policy, institutional, planning, financing and technological developments and innovations that resulted in more than 5 million households receiving access to electricity between 1990 and 2007. Key aspects include the way in which a period of political change and policy disruption were essential to the programme's initiation, and the critical role played by organisations and individuals outside of national government in helping shape new electrification policies and strategies. In addition, the paper identifies the contribution of technology development in cost reduction and achieving the social aims of the programme. Several lessons may be drawn from the institutional and planning arrangements that the South African programme has developed, the significance of the development of appropriate cost-driven technical innovations and standards, and the acknowledgement of the social function of electrification and its funding from the fiscus (rather than through cross-subsidies).
SPSS and the General Household Survey